The word persecution tends to be misused today. Either people try to limit its use to the great atrocities of world history (such as the Holocaust or the Ethnic Cleansing), or use it as an epithet when a person happens to oppose their position (such as the rhetoric used by proponents of “same sex marriage”). Both would be misuses because:
1) Persecution is not limited to genocide
2) Persecution is not mere opposition.
Why These Two Cases Misapply the Word Persecution
The first case is a misuse because this confuses what a persecution is (definition) with the level of injustice directed at a person because of his or her religion, ethnicity or political outlook. When this confusion is made, it basically says, “You’re not being persecuted because what you’re going through is not severe enough to count.” Yes, genocide of people of a religion or race is a persecution, but there can be less drastic forms intending to cause harm to a person which are persecution, but fall short of mass murder.
The second case is a misuse because this confuses mere opposition to a person’s views or behavior with maltreating them on account of those who hold them. For example, when I meet an atheist who is virulently anti-Catholic, I may think he’s a bigot or an idiot if he’s obnoxious enough about it. But I don’t assume he is persecuting me simply on the grounds that he thinks my views or actions are wrong. It’s only if he goes from opposition to seeking to mistreat me on account of my beliefs that opposition can become persecution. When being opposed by someone who thinks your ideas are wrong and seeks to pass laws which support what they think is right, that’s not persecution. But when someone seeks to use the law to target someone who holds certain beliefs with the aim of punishing them for holding those beliefs and living in accordance with them, that is persecution.
So, the state not recognizing “same sex marriage” is not a persecution of people with same sex attraction. Nor is outlawing abortion a persecution of women. Such laws do not seek to punish people for having same sex attraction or being a woman They face no legal maltreatment for being a person with same sex attraction or being a woman. However, a judge who rules that it is illegal for a person who refuses to provide services on the grounds that he or she believes that to do so is to cooperate with moral evil is persecuting the person. He or she can either abandon their moral convictions or face repercussions….
See rest of Article at http://arnobius-of-sicca.blogspot.com/2015/02/reflections-on-persecution.html